Not a ballet or other kind of dancer? No problem. The bar or barre workout may be perfect for you anyway. Don’t have a ballet bar handy at home? Not a problem, either. You can use the back of a sturdy chair for balance instead.
The Bar Method and Pure Barre both use isometrics—stationary, strengthening exercises—and stretching at a ballet bar or other stationary object to help strengthen and tone the body. The Bar Method includes dance, interval training, physical therapy and isometrics and uses lunges, core work and leg extensions with occasional stretching, and targets muscles, not joints. Pure Barre uses ballet, Pilates and light weight-training to strengthen and tone the arms, abdominals, thighs and buttocks via lunges, relevés (ankle rises) and pliés (knee bends).
If you’re new to the bar or barre, then here are a few moves to try:
Face the ballet bar or sturdy chair and place your hands on it—hip-distance apart. Tuck in your pelvis so that your belly button goes toward your spine. While looking straight ahead, raise your chest and relax your shoulders, squeezing your shoulder blades together as much as you can. (Keep your spine straight, though.) While holding this position, bend your knees to a 45-degree angle and lift your heels up. Tighten your glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps. Breathe deeply in and out, and hold this position until your legs tremble. Now, add several small, pulsing movements—no more than one-inch pulses—to work these muscles even more deeply. Then back up from the bar or chair and shake your legs to loosen them up.
Now, here’s another one to try.
While gently holding onto the ballet bar or back of a chair, stand with your heels together, toes turned out—about 45 degrees—and legs straight. With your spine tall and your abs tightened, raise yourself onto the balls of your feet. Now, bend your knees out over your toes and lower yourself about halfway down. Now straighten your legs and squeeze your inner thighs together. Then lower your heels to the floor again. Repeat 20 times or as many as you can.
Go ahead and raise the bar for your workout!
In order to avoid risk of injury, please seek advice directly from your physician, especially if you have existing medical issues, before beginning any exercise or nutritional program. Also, be sure to stretch after exercise to avoid muscle and joint tightness.